The Obsessively Secretive Founder of Bitcoin Has Been Unmasked

Former Staff Writer
3 min read

Five years after Bitcoin’s creation, its elusive founder is now Newsweek’s latest cover star.

Press outlets and members of the Bitcoin community have long speculated that “Satoshi Nakamoto” was a pseudonym for -- according to various claims over time -- certain noted economists, cryptographists and mathematicians across the globe, or even a consortium of inventors.

But in the cover story of its first printed issue since 2012, under its new owner IBT Media, Newsweek alleges that Satoshi Nakamoto is the actual name of the currency’s 64-year-old, Japanese-American architect.

Related: 50 Insane Facts About Bitcoin (Infographic)

Reporter Leah McGrath Goodman tracked down Nakamoto from a database of naturalized U.S. citizens and then ordered his records from the National Archives. After learning that he was an avid collector of model trains, she obtained his email address from an online retailer and baited him with correspondence about the hobby.

When she finally breached the issue of Bitcoin in late February, Nakamoto ceased contact -- so she showed up at the southern California home he shares with his 93-year-old mother, of which Newsweek has posted photos that also legibly showcase the license plate of his Toyota Corolla.

Upon her arrival, Nakamoto called the cops and said: "I am no longer involved in that and I cannot discuss it. It's been turned over to other people. They are in charge of it now. I no longer have any connection."

Related: The Winklevoss Twins Score Virgin Galactic Tickets to Space, Paying With Bitcoin

While he would not submit to an interview, McGrath Goodman contacted members of Nakamoto’s family -- including two younger brothers, several of his six children and an ex-wife -- all of whom describe him as an obsessively secretive mathematical genius who screens his phone calls and anonymizes his emails.

As a devout libertarian, he once played a hide-and-seek game with one of his daughters in which they’d “pretend the government agencies are coming after you,” she said.

Nobody could confirm, however, Nakamoto’s connection to Bitcoin.

Related: 6 Bitcoin Basics for Beginners

What else did McGrath Goodman learn about the alleged Bitcoin founder? Having changed his name to Dorian S. Nakamoto in 1973, he went on to complete classified work for major corporations and the U.S. military.

After coping with prostate cancer and suffering a stroke several months ago, he has still never spent the hundreds of millions of dollars in Bitcoin he is said to have reaped after launching the currency -- though this is most likely because he wished to remain anonymous, said Gavin Andresen, chief scientist of the Bitcoin Foundation.

Bitcoin has been a subject of international scrutiny as of late given the collapse of the once-popular Mt. Gox exchange and disappearance of nearly $400 million from its account. Just this week, Canadian exchange Flexcoin closed down after hackers stole $600,000 worth of bitcoins, and the CEO of American exchange First Meta was found dead in her apartment in Singapore.

Related: First U.S. Bitcoin ATMs Set to Debut in Seattle, Austin

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